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Nine kids in a classroom of 30 live in poverty, says charity

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Britain is going into Brexit with half a million more children trapped in poverty than five years ago, following a rise in the number of working families struggling to make ends meet. 

In a typical classroom of 30 children, nine are now living in poverty, according to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Overall, one in five of the UK population (14.3 million people) are in poverty and of these 8.2 million are working-age adults, 4.1 million are children and 1.9 million are pensioners.

Eight million people live in poverty in families where at least one person is in work, the charity said.

In-work poverty has been rising even faster than employment and there are now four million workers in poverty – around one in eight in the economy, according to the research.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said: “We are seeing a rising tide of child poverty as more parents are unable to make ends meet, despite working. This is unacceptable. It means more families are trapped in impossible situations: struggling to pay the bills, put food on the table and dealing with the terrible stresses and strains poverty places on family life.

“It’s time for us to decide what kind of country we want to be. As we leave the EU, we must tackle the burning injustice of poverty and make Britain a country that works for everyone.

“We can do this by taking action on housing, social security and work to loosen the constraints poverty places on people’s lives. No one wants to see more families being pushed over the brink.

“We have an opportunity to fix this and ensure everyone can reach a decent standard of living – it is one we must seize to make the country work for everyone after Brexit.”

‘Life can feel like a hamster’s wheel’

Hazel Ratcliffe, a working lone parent from Fife, told the JRF: “Life can feel like a hamster’s wheel: I am working and pushing myself so hard, but feel like I’m stuck. Every week I have school dinner money to give the boys, diesel for my car, food for the house. Most weeks I manage, but it involves rigid meal planning, then going around the supermarket with a calculator to ensure I stay within budget. Clothes, shoes and food are so expensive.

“I live in private rented accommodation. Benefits should loosen the constraints of low pay and high rents. I think the government needs to increase benefits to match the rate of inflation. The minimum wage needs to be more like the living wage and make sure work is a route to a decent quality of life.”


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